Bat­tling back

A bomb blast changed Dan Ma­jid’s life for ever. Now the Nor­folk PE teacher is ready to rep­re­sent his coun­try again, writes Rowan Man­tell

EDP Norfolk - - THEATRE - PHO­TOS: Antony Kelly

Dan Ma­jid will be­gin the month teach­ing PE in Stal­ham. He will end it com­pet­ing for his coun­try in Aus­tralia in the In­vic­tus Games.

Eight years ago Dan was a soldier on pa­trol in Afghanistan. A bomb ex­ploded, shat­ter­ing his arm and chang­ing his life for ever. His new life is on the Nor­folk coast, with part­ner Jess French (the CBee­bies pre­sen­ter, vet and au­thor) and their 10-month-old daugh­ter.

Dan had been work­ing as a PE teacher, and vol­un­teer­ing with the Army Re­serve as a phys­i­cal train­ing in­struc­tor when he vol­un­teered for full-time ser­vice.

After ex­tra train­ing he was sent to Afghanistan on a six-month tour with the sec­ond para­chute reg­i­ment. Just eight weeks later he was at the front of a foot pa­trol when a bomb ex­ploded.

As the huge cloud of dust sub­sided Dan feared his arm had been com­pletely sev­ered. Mak­ing him­self a tourni­quet to stem the bleed­ing, he ra­dioed for help. He was flown to the field hos­pi­tal at Camp Bas­tion, where doc­tors warned they might have to am­pu­tate.

Dan, now 33, was med­i­cally dis­charged from the Army last year. His arm was saved, but is short­ened, with metal plates sup­port­ing the shat­tered bones.

In­vic­tus con­tes­tants have all been in the armed forces and bat­tled in­jury or ill­ness. They are picked for their sport­ing prow­ess, com­mit­ment to train­ing and how tak­ing part will help their re­cov­ery.

Dan, who lives near Win­tertonon-Sea, is one of 72 peo­ple, in­clud­ing three from Nor­folk, cho­sen to rep­re­sent the UK. Dan will be com­pet­ing in ath­let­ics, row­ing and sail­ing. Be­fore he was in­jured, school sports events were the clos­est he had ever been to an ath­let­ics meet and a gym row­ing ma­chine the clos­est he had come to row­ing. “I’ve just bought my first pair of track spikes and long jumped for the first time since I was at school!” he said.

“I’ve been train­ing where and when I can. The near­est gym is 40 min­utes away so I’m dou­bling things up, do­ing squats and lunges hold­ing the baby, run­ning with our off-road pram and sand dune sprints with the dog. We only live a short walk away from the beach and the Broads so that’s re­ally handy.”

He said he coped with his in­jury by set­ting phys­i­cal chal­lenges for him­self and is now us­ing his In­vic­tus train­ing to en­hance his PE les­sons. “Our coaches are na­tional and in­ter­na­tional level train­ers. So the ses­sions they put on for us are in­spir­ing and chal­leng­ing but spe­cific with great ad­vice on tech­niques. I just re­peat what they say and change the ses­sions slightly so they are ap­pli­ca­ble to the level I teach at,” said Dan.

Jess, who met Dan when she was in her fi­nal year at univer­sity, will be trav­el­ling out to Aus­tralia with Dan and their daugh­ter. “I need to con­tinue on my road to re­cov­ery now more than ever since I have just started a fam­ily,” said Dan.

“I would also like to set my­self a new phys­i­cal chal­lenge as

I feel this is the best way for me to man­age my moods and mo­ti­va­tion. I hope it will pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion for my lit­tle girl as well as the stu­dents I teach. If I can look for­ward to events, chal­lenges and ex­pe­ri­ences and feel like I’m still grow­ing then I will be able to con­tinue on my road to re­cov­ery and be the best dad I can be.” in­vic­tus­games­foun­da­tion.org

“I hope it will pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion for my lit­tle girl as well as the stu­dents I teach”

ABOVE: Jess French with Dan Ma­jid and their baby daugh­ter

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